If any single designer knows about star power and its impact on fashion, it’s Tom Ford. He didn’t just shine a spotlight on this idea with the Sept. 14 premiere of his Spring/Summer 2023 collection — it was practically a klieg light, producing a high-wattage event that indeed demonstrated Ford’s own power in the dual realms of style and celebrity.
That was evident from the moment the scrum of front-row photographers kicked into overdrive, witnessing the arrival of Madonna. The icon recently debuted Finally Enough Love: 50 Number Ones — released Aug. 19, the album showcases Madonna’s 50 songs that have topped the Billboard’s Dance Club Songs chart, more than any other artist in history — so it felt right that she made a rare public appearance to support the man with whom she’s shared some legendary style moments. Indeed, consider that the now-famous look she wore to the 1995 MTV Video Music Awards, a silk button-down shirt in peacock blue with black silk boot-cut trousers, produced during Ford’s tenure as Gucci’s creative director, feels just as current as it did when he produced that seminal collection almost three decades ago.
The times undeniably have changed. Madonna now has adult children, Rocco Richie and Lourdes Leon, who sat on each side of her on the front row, with Leon in a look that matched her mother’s. And the woman who once craved publicity eschewed all requests for photos and interviews: “She just wants to have fun tonight like everyone else,” explained a nearby assistant.
If Madonna had been the only A-list guest at Ford’s show, that still would have dominated headlines on the closing night of New York Fashion Week, but this is a designer and film director who never does anything by half. Also in attendance: Chris Rock, Katie Holmes, Ciara Wilson, Russell Westbrook, Erykah Badu, Chloe Fineman, Nicole Richie, Evan Mock, Brooklyn and Nicola Peltz Beckham, Conan Gray, Shalom Harlow and several others, all in a downtown event space on Vesey Street to view the latest collection by the man who now traditionally closes New York Fashion Week.
Trudie Styler also was on the front row, though the British-born actress and film producer notes she’ll be back in England in time for the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II on Monday. “She was a great role model, somebody who really knew she had a job and was never going to quit; she always said that and was true to that,” says Styler, who was present when husband Sting received a CBE from the monarch in 2003. “Her consistency and her devotion to her job and her people should be admired. Through all her prime ministers and the family challenges she went through up until her last moment, she always deported herself in such a kind and elegant way. I miss her terribly already.”
Styler also explained why Ford appeals to stars who could access a bounty of labels clamoring to dress them. “He’s a man for all ages, all genders, all times,” she says. “I’ve always loved his fastidiousness to that thought, that we are always evolving, and he can evolve with us and always make us feel like our most powerful selves.”
Ford put that power on full display when the lights went down, sending out an ‘80s-inspired collection that juxtaposed high-shine metallics with the bare, lingerie-driven pieces that have been trending throughout New York Fashion Week. One look featured an oversized silver bomber jacket embellished with stars in pink or purple, paired with the briefest of silver metallic track shorts; at the other end of the spectrum, several models wore variations on triangle bra tops in black satin under sheer black T-shirts or leather jackets.
And then the soundtrack shifted from ‘80s hits (that matched the models’ major ‘80s hair) — “Addicted to Love,” “Take on Me” and “The Look of Love” had editors and stars alike bouncing in their seats — to a more introspective vibe with Freddie Mercury crooning “Time.” Mercury’s 1986 song includes the lyrics, “Time waits for nobody/Time waits for no one/We’ve got to build this world together/Or we’ll have no more future at all/Because time/It waits for nobody,” and instantly this show so heavily rooted in upbeat glitz and glam achieved a new depth. The models, including Bella and Gigi Hadid, slowed down their walks for this evening-focused section that, while still rife with sparkle, also felt undeniably more romantic and thoughtful. Ford the designer loves a good show, but Ford the man is never afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve.
Earlier in the evening, Neiman Marcus likewise paid tribute to high-end fashion, hosting a “Live Your Luxury” cocktail party at Chelsea’s Empire Diner. Star stylists Erin Walsh and Jason Rembert co-hosted alongside Jodi Kahn, the retailer’s vice president of luxury fashion. “We’ve worked with Erin both as a client and a stylist when Juno Temple hosted the Neiman Marcus Holiday Launch in 2021,” Kahn explains. “Jason is not only a client and stylist, but we are thrilled to carry his collection Aliétte at Neiman Marcus. They both embody the mindset of luxury in the everyday with their own unique sensibilities.”
Walsh’s client list includes Anne Hathaway, who turned up at the event in a red knit tunic and fringed skirt that had debuted on the Michael Kors Collection runway roughly eight hours earlier. “I just loved that show; it felt really focused and sensual and clean,” Walsh says.
Rembert also premiered his Spring 2023 Aliétte presentation the same day at the Georgia Room in Gramercy Park — an impressive feat, given he was in L.A. two days earlier, styling looks for four Emmys attendees, including Lizzo, memorable in a red Giambattista Valli haute couture gown as she picked up her trophy for outstanding competition program. “There’s something so special about a plus-size Black woman wearing a couture gown,” Rembert says. “Mr. Valli and his team made her feel seen and supported and loved. For a stylist and a client, you can’t hope for more than that.”
As he continues toggling between red carpet styling and fashion design, Rembert says he’s incredibly appreciative of the support from the Neiman Marcus team. “They were the first brick-and-mortar retailer to support me,” he notes. “They put me in their program with my first collection at both Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman, at a time when I thought my only opportunities would be at entry-level price points. But they believed in me at a high level and put the power of their marketing behind me. It means a lot, and I’ve grown with them.”
“It was important for us to toast the end of New York Fashion Week with our close friends and partners,” Kahn adds, “to bring together the diverse, dynamic and creative fashion community. And, at the same time, have some fun.”